Sunaya Sapurji

  • Dream come true: Anthony Duclair is savouring hometown World Junior Hockey Championship

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 15 hrs ago

    MONTREAL — Before the game even started, when his name was called, the crowd gave him rousing welcome.

    Anthony Duclair had returned home.

    The NHLer was back in his hometown, in the Bell Centre, the Mecca of hockey in Quebec, playing with Team Canada. The game was a blowout; a 8-0 victory over Slovakia in Canada’s opening game of the tournament being held simultaneously in Montreal and Toronto.

    The 19-year-old scored Canada’s second goal and assisted on another.

    [Buzzing the Net: Max Domi demonstrates 'Canadian hockey' with inspired effort]

    Having not played before for Canada at the world juniors, the idea of returning to play in the marquee Christmas-time event in his hometown was an exciting prospect and something he said he had always dreamed of doing as a kid.

    "It’s amazing," said Duclair. "Growing up here in Montreal, it’s incredible and every time I watched the Habs it was a special feeling. For myself, playing in my hometown it’s a special feeling and to score in my hometown is incredible."

  • World Juniors 2015: Finland's Young Lions undone by Eichel, power play

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 1 day ago

    MONTREAL — Earlier this week, Finland's head coach Hannu Jortikka was quoted in the Finnish daily Sanomat as saying - in his opinion - Team USA was the best team at the 2015 world juniors, even better than the host Canadians.

    After the American's beat the Finns 2-1 in a shootout on Friday, his position had changed when asked by a Canadian journalist about his quote.

    "The coaches are so tired they (say) a lot of crazy things," said Jortikka. "That's one part of this game outside of the rink.

    "One thing for Canada is that the pressure at home is not so easy for young kids game after game."

    If not for the play of Finnish starter Ville Husso, the score would have been settled long before heading to the shooutout. The netminder, who plays pro hockey for IFK Helskini, stopped 36 shots in the loss.

    "Eichel is a great player, so dangerous," said Husso. 

    Jortikka echoed the sentiment.

    "He's a good player," said the Finnish coach. "Everybody knows that.

    "Everyone can see (the U.S.) has a couple of good, unbelievable players."

    Finland will face Slovakia on Saturday, while the U.S., next plays on Sunday against Germany.

  • Benoit Groulx guided by passion, parents from Gatineau to world juniors

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    Benoit Groulx’s head coaching journey began at a Tim Hortons in his hometown of Gatineau, Que. It was there that he met with Charlie Henry, the then-owner and general manager of the Olympiques.

    After an 11-year pro hockey playing career in Europe, Groulx had returned home to become an assistant coach with the Quebec Major Junior League’s Shawinigan Cataractes. He was in his second season as an assistant when Henry came calling in 2000-2001.

    “Are you ready to coach?” asked Henry.

    There was slight apprehension. Groulx wasn’t sure.

    His response was, “I guess so. Yes.”

    “If you’re half as tough as your dad was, we’ll be fine with you in Gatineau,” said Henry.

    That conversation was 14 years and three QMJHL championships ago.

    Henry was very familiar with his new coach, having been a close friend of Groulx’s father, the late Gilles Groulx. A larger-than-life character with a strong personality and a penchant for the game, Gilles was a fixture in the local QMJHL scene.

    The elder Groulx coached minor hockey for a stint alongside Pat Burns and included on his roster at one time or another were the likes of New York Rangers GM Alain Vigneault and Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

  • World Junior 2015 Preview: Denmark makes case to avoid relegation

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 4 days ago

    GROUP B: DENMARK 2014 finish: Promoted to top division 2014 round-robin record Division I (Group A): 5-0-0-0, 20 GF/10 GA

    Yahoo! Canada Sports has asked North American-based players, some of whom are playing in the world junior championship, to break down their national teams.

    If ever there was a time for Denmark to make a splash at the world junior championship - this is it. This is the third time the Danes have made an appearance in the top-tier - the last time being the 2011 tournament in Edmonton and Calgary. This time, however, Denmark is looking to stay, and they have their best chance in years to do it.

    The Danes have six players who are currently playing their hockey in the CHL, including Portland Winterhawks star Oliver Bjorkstrand, Memorial Cup champion Mads Eller and Halifax Mooseheads forward Nikolaj Ehlers - arguably one of the best players in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

    "It's amazing to see how good our chemistry is," said Ehlers. "I think that's why in the last two years we have been able to move up and win the world juniors twice in the B Division. It's going to be a good time, but it's going to be tough."


  • Team Canada maks final cuts in preparation for 2015 world juniors

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 8 days ago

    Team Canada’s final cuts came late Friday night as four players – three forwards and one defenceman – were shuttled out of the team hotel and back home.

    Cut from the world junior team were forwards Michael Dal Colle of the Oshawa Generals, Rourke Chartier of the Kelowna Rockets and Jason Dickinson of the Guelph Storm. Haydn Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels was the single cut on the blueline to bring Canada down to 22 players for the start of the tournament on Dec. 26 against Slovakia.

    On Wednesday the Ottawa Senators released rookie forward Curtis Lazar, 19, to play for Canada meaning one less spot for the 25 players who had been in camp prior to his arrival.

    "We've been talking about this for the last couple of days," said Canada's head coach Benoit Groulx. "We came to the conclusion that it was time to get our team together with the addition of Curtis yesterday. We feel that we're all set to announce our team so that's why we decided to make our decision tonight."

    "It's disappointing."

  • Senators loan Curtis Lazar to Team Canada for world juniors

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 9 days ago

    It was the best gift Team Canada could have hoped for heading into the world junior championship. On Thursday the Ottawa Senators announced they would be releasing 19-year-old forward Curtis Lazar to play in the 10-day tournament.

    “We're excited about our group (of players) to begin with and when you can add another piece it just solidifies a few things for us," said Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations for Hockey Canada. "A guy with his pedigree having won (a Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings) and a guy we see as a leader with his experience of being in the tournament last year - when you put all those things together you can't help but be excited." 

    As one of Canada’s most versatile and dependable forwards during the tournament last year in Malmo, Sweden, the loan is most welcome as Team Canada looks to win its first medal since 2012 and first gold since 2009.

    According to Salmond, Lazar will join the team tomorrow in Toronto, but will not play in Friday night's exhibition game against Russia at the Air Canada Centre. He's expected to be in the lineup for Canada's tuneup against Sweden on Dec. 21 in Ottawa.

  • Team Canada remains 'optimistic' about getting Lazar on loan

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 11 days ago

    ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Until Hockey Canada hears the word no from the Ottawa Senators they’ll continue to hold out hope for Curtis Lazar.

    The Ottawa Senators rookie, who scored his first NHL goal on Monday night, is the last remaining pro player Team Canada has a shot at getting for the 2015 world junior championship. Lazar played on the team last year and was one of the team’s most dependable, versatile forwards.

    “The fact that they haven’t said no right now is at least encouraging,” said Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations for Hockey Canada. “We remain optimistic. We think that Curtis could be a huge part of this team and obviously being here last year and being a proven winner with his club team. At the end of the day (the Senators) are no different than us – they’re in the business of winning hockey games.”

    Lazar, who won the Memorial Cup in May with his Edmonton Oil Kings, was one of the top scorers with his junior team finishing last season with 41 goals and 76 points in 58 WHL games.

    “It’s disappointing, we were really optimistic with Bo,” said Salmond. “I think ultimately the injury to (forward Zack) Kassian was probably the determining factor for them.”

  • Connor McDavid gets green light for contact in practice with Team Canada

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago


    ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — The yellow jersey is gone. Instead, on Monday afternoon, Connor McDavid wore a white practice sweater like his other teammates.

    The 17-year-old junior star has been cleared for contact which meant he was able to fully participate in drills at Team Canada’s selection camp.

    The change came some five weeks after he broke a small bone in his right hand during a fight in an OHL game on Nov. 11. Even though McDavid received the go - ahead for contact, his teammates looked like they were holding back slightly when it came to jostling with the star centre.

    “I think when they see him they want to make sure they don’t hit him on his glove,” said Team Canada coach Benoit Groulx after practice at the Meridian Centre. “They’ve got to be careful, but overall I thought the guys went pretty hard.”

    It’s no surprise Canada’s players sided with a little caution when it came to McDavid – he’s the projected top pick for the 2015 NHL draft and is considered by many to be a generational hockey talent. To put it bluntly, he’s the golden ticket at the 2015 world junior championship and everyone knows it.

  • Showtime: Jake Virtanen brings his A game to Team Canada's selection camp

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    Jake Virtanen has earned a new nickname in camp: Showtime .

    His teammates were razzing the first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks after Virtanen recorded six points in two exhibition games at Team Canada’s selection camp this weekend.

    “The guys were just giving it to each other in the room, ‘Oh, you’re showtime’ and stuff like that,” said Virtanen with a smile. “(Teammate Morgan) Klimchuk was giving it to me after the game today.”

    He’s making up for lost time after shoulder surgery sidelined him at Canada’s summer camp and caused him to miss the start of the Western Hockey League season with the Calgary Hitmen.

    “That definitely hurt me a little bit,” said Virtanen. “Not participating in (summer camp) was tough and a little frustrating, but coming into this I knew I really had to show my stuff and especially in the Subway Series. That was huge for me because I had to show the coaching staff and the whole staff that I definitely wanted to be on this team and that I would do anything to be on it.”

    Still, the decision was a difficult one, said Team Canada head coach Benoit Groulx.

    If looping was an issue, Virtanen seemed to have kicked the habit in exhibition.

  • Canada, Fucale off to 'good start' in first game of selection camp

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 14 days ago

    If Team Canada’s head coach Benoit Groulx was looking for a tight game to help weed out potential world junior cuts, he didn’t find it on Saturday night. Team Canada easily handled a team of local university players by way of a 10-3 blowout.

    The scoring was spread out though Guelph Storm forward Robby Fabbri scored twice. In total, Canada had 16 different players find their name on the final scoresheet. At the world juniors last year in Malmo, Sweden, getting consistent scoring was a problem for Canada – particularly from the top two lines – so players finding the back of the net bodes well.

    “We want to be a four line team obviously,” said Groulx. “It’s nice to see that everybody is contributing offensively tonight and it’s the kind of team we went to be. We want to go out there and establish our pace and the way we play. I was very happy with many, many guys tonight.”

    There were defensive turnovers, but Groulx said that was to be expected considering the defencemen in camp have had very little time to get acclimatized to one another.

    Goaltender Zach Fucale is one of the few players on the team with job security. The 19-year-old made 23 saves in his first test with Canada.